Pothole Magazine, Installment #3

Looking pretty haggard in Two Harbors, Catalina Island, SoCal.
    When we left off in Pothole Deuce, no-budget-travelers Mack and Max had just sailed piece-of-shit yacht "Sin Fin" through a nasty storm while crossing the Oregon/California border.  Still far from their destination, they're going for broke...

     For the most part, California represented a dangerous, expensive and LONG obstacle between us and the adventure-filled freedom we hoped to find South of the Border.  We'd seen the weather turn foul as winter drew near and felt our cash wads shrinking. Wiser minds told us of safer seas awaiting past Point Conception, still about 600 miles (at least 100 hours) South of our position.  We'd both been to SoCal before and agreed it pretty much sucks.  As such, the plan was GOGOGO-- weather permitting-- until we hit Mexico.

     Even though Gale Force Winds were still howling, we left Crescent City only a few days after our exhausting and terrifying arrival.  After a few hours of white-knuckle sailing we wizened up and pulled into quaint little Trinidad.  Though there were plenty of moorings, we were the only boat in the bay.

     There we encountered world-class kitesurfing and friendly folks.  One morning we even caught a ride to the beach with a local who showed us a nasty scar left by a Great White.  Google sez this about the attack:

October 21, 2005: Chad Reiker was surfing at the mouth of the No Name River in Northern California... He was ~100 yards from shore over water 12 – 15 feet deep when the shark came from behind, striking him on the right side. He was thrown from his board, and the shark pulled it below the surface. He was not wearing a leg leash and began swimming to the beach immediately. He retrieved his board and drove himself to Mad River Hospital where ER physicians dressed and sutured the cut to his right thigh. Reiker described the White Shark as between 12 – 14 feet in length with a large girth. It is noteworthy that two weeks prior to the attack he observed a White Shark of similar size at the same location.  (Italics mine.)

     If you didn't catch all that, our friendly chauffeur, at a spot where he'd recently encountered a Great White, was surfing leashless in 6 to 8 foot swell when he got attacked.  Trailing blood (he needed lotsa stitches) Reiker swam ~100 yards to shore, collected his board, and drove himself to the ER.  Regularly experiencing life a few pegs down on the food chain?  I proclaim that gritty.  Adding to the ridiculousness, the very morning we bummed a ride with Reiker, he was heading home from surfing the same break where he'd gotten chomped.  Call him crazy, but look at the wave:

     The Gale subsided so we hauled anchor that night with our sights set on San Francisco.  Ten minutes out of Trinidad, the autopilot died.  We spent the next 54 hours trading off three hour stretches at the tiller.  Utterly exhausted, we slid beneath the Golden Gate Bridge an hour before dawn on a full moon night.  Surreal.

     We sniped a free slip at the ultra-swank Golden Gate Yacht Club and passed out.  After the much needed nap, we dropped a painful $450 on a new autopilot, were treated to dinner by local friends (THANKS!), tied one on, slept hard, and sailed South the following day.  We wanted to stay longer, but playing around in that amazing city would have broken the bank.

     We dubbed the new autopilot "Baby Jesus", and it proved our savior many times.  Never sail anywhere without a functioning autopilot!  The name also took the edge off when warning people to be careful around the autopilot.  "Don't set your beer on the Baby Jesus... be careful not to step on the Baby Jesus... if you don't understand the Baby Jesus, don't  push the Baby Jesus's buttons". Etcetera ad nausea... but hilarious.  I highly recommend the name.

     We got busted for sniping a slip in Santa Cruz and were issued a $102 fine.  Instead of paying it, we took off in the middle of the night.  The next afternoon, 75 miles South, we got busted again in Morro Bay by an exceptionally grumpy husband and wife fishing team.  We'd stopped there to check the weather and grab gasoline.  The gas dock attendant (granted, not the brightest fellow) gave us the OK to tie up where we did, so Mack and I walked off in search of pizza and beer.  The forecast looked iffy, and we were approaching the notorious Point Conception, so we were unsure whether we'd continue that evening or hole up for the next few nights where we were.

Morro Bay is named after this bad ass rock formation.
Sadly the view from the "Morro" is substantially less inspiring.  HUGE smokestacks.
     We returned from dinner happy to await a more favorable forecast, but found the boat being moved by these irate fisherfolk.  Apparently we were in one of their unused "spots".

     When they realized we were with the boat, they laid into us and got the Port Captain on the radio.  Rather than risk having a few minor infractions snowball on us, we bid them "fuck you" and cast off.  The nastiest night of sailing thus far ensued.

     The whole experience resembled a bad movie.  We raced past the jetty in the glorious early evening, cockily defiant and confident the weather would hold.  It didn't.  The closer we got to Point Conception, the worse it got, and soon I was puking again.  As darkness descended, it got downright scary and stayed that way until well after dawn when under storm jib alone, we pulled into a remote anchorage in the Channel Islands.

Isla San Miguel, Channel Islands
     Another forecasted Gale developed and we were trapped in the Channel Islands for three days of gloriously terrifying kitesurfing.  The water was frigid, the wind gustily intense, the waves well-overhead, and the heavy concentration of Great Whites in the area, indisputable.  We were only 25 miles from the mainland, but the wildness of the island and sea made us feel completely on our own.  This is a feeling we finally got comfortable with about halfway down Baja.

     When this Gale subsided we bee-lined towards Catalina Island for a few days rest in Two Harbors.  This is about the perfect spot for a jaded SoCal boat bum to drink himself to death... just so you know.  We couldn't afford much drink, so we celebrated by splitting a half gallon of ice cream.  Dank.

     From there the light winds of SoCal forced us to motor much of the way to San Diego.  There we made friends with some amazingly accommodating yachties and prepared the boat for Mexico.  Two busy days later, we had dolphins off the bow as we sailed across the border...


Pickling Freedom

Returning to life stateside has proved as much a trip as my busted-ass sailing odyssey.  I've gone back to ski bumming in Wyoming, happily broke but surrounded by material excess... no car.. ten hours a week behind the bar... pulling plastic teeth in my little shed... down at the bottom of the J Hole but scaling it's walls daily in perpetual search.  Fortunately, the gravity of reentry has been lightened by good friends, great skiing, the occasional cocktail, excessive exercise, and all grades of given herb.  Unfortunately, all this pleasurable experience comes at a price: along with slow-easy-consciousness, in the time since my return good writing has flown out the window.

All truth told, my brain is pickling.  Every day is an occasion.  This might be hard to follow.  You've been warned.  

The current pointless project is wrapping myself in a perversion of the American Dream again, getting my hopes up so their subsequent trouncing will send me off the deep and into my next adventure.  Mindlessly, I'm embracing  a backcountry ski bum life despite awareness of its fundamental flaws: there's no money in it, and at it's best this life offers the exact opposite of security.  However, that freedom is ohhh so delicious, especially if properly prepared.  Hence, I'm a mountain man pickled, sure as shit there's no truer way to take in/on America without losing your own soul.

Enough nonsense.  On with the story.  


Painful and Terrifying Conflicts Of Interest In $2,000 Carbon Fiber Boots

The next time you need new ski boots, you won't feel so bad about spending $500 on them.  Consider yourself fortunate they don't cost $2060... plus sales tax.

$2060 is what it takes to snag a pair of 444 gram (just under 1 pound!) carbon fiber ski boots made by Pierre Gignoux.  Personally, I'd prefer dropping TWO GRAND over the course of a three month, third world surf trip... but that's just me.

A small group of skiers are willing to spend that kind of dough on boots in the quest for the lightest, techiest set up... all in the name of uphill speed.  I speak of the hardcore Randonee Racers, members of the quirkiest spandex-clad sub-sect within the ever-growing culture of backcountry skiing.

If risking life and limb in the big mountains on floppy little skis is appealing to you, consider Randonee Racing.

If you treat skin tracks like race tracks and are perpetually passing in the bootpack, consider Randonee Racing.

If you enjoy feeling like your heart is exploding and chattering with screaming quads down icy steeps, consider Randonee Racing.

If things like connecting with the mountains,
enjoying the outdoorswith friends,
taking in the scenic vistas,
hunting for freshies,
and actually enjoying your backcountry experience all take the back burner to embracing one of the most ridiculous avenues imaginable by which one may claim having bested their competition (or wallow in the self-pityingly-pointless agony of defeat), consider Randonee Racing.

Intrigued? Come get a taste Saturday, March 20th at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.  At 8 a.m. the US Ski Mountaineering National Championships kicks off.

Racers must climb over 7,500 vertical feet and find their way back down through some of the gnarliest terrain at the resort.  Alta 1?  Yep.  Tower 3 Chute? Of course.  The Crags, Rendezvous Bowl, the endless mogul field covering the North Hoback, and much, much more...

Thanks to the 8 a.m. start, conditions are guaranteed to be utterly icy, with gigantic moguls, countless exposed rocks, random dirt patches, and a slew of other hazards to contend with.  First one up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, and finally all the way down... in one piece... wins.

Though I can't say I'm looking forward to it, I'll be racing.  Frankly, I'm hovering somewhere between nervous, annoyed, reluctant, and terrified.

Of course, there's the option to keep it casual on the ups and descend conservatively.  Excuses for taking it easy abound.  I got my race boots for $10 at the Browse and Buy Thrift Store.  My skis are 130mm... underfoot!  Additionally, I hate being rushed... and feeling like my heart is exploding.


In the interests of taking the piss out of über-competitive, over-achieving, mega-consumer gear sluts, I'll be giving it all I've got.  If I make it down intact and beat just one guy wearing $2060 boots, we ski bums can claim a small victory... ironically, in the name of the truer essence of backcountry skiing.


Pothole Mag Two Unleashed!

If you find yourself in the Guanacaste Peninsula of Costa Rica, pick up a few copies for me and my Mom.  You can read it online here.

That, my friends, is the best looking magazine cover I've ever seen... proud to be a part of it.

Thanks Potholers!


Grand Teton: First Female Snowboard Descent

On March 11th, 2010 I got to help make a little sliver of history here in Jackson Hole when my partner Dani and I summited the Grand Teton and dropped in off the summit.  Dani was the first woman to snowboard the peak, a very impressive accomplishment since only a handful of distinguished female ski mountaineers have ridden it previously.

Only a few hundred people have skied or snowboarded the Grand Teton since 1971 when pioneer Bill Briggs made the first ski descent.  His life story is a truly impressive one, and you can read all about it at WildSnow.com.  

There you'll find the following quote from Briggs:

"I found I couldn't kill myself -- I didn't have the courage.  Since I had to live, I decided to make the most of life; to simply go with what I found most pleasurable: climbing, skiing, and music."


I first got the bug to ski the Grand when I saw a news clipping of Briggs' tracks on the wall in the Stage Coach Bar while boozing after a day skiing Teton Pass.  The picture offered a certain terrifying allure:

Since we did it mid-winter, Dani and I got to ride from the tippy top.

Dani got her stoke after working as assistant to Stephen Koch, renowned snowboarder of the Seven Summits and Teton Legend.  Among many other first descents in the area, he made the first snowboard descent of the Grand in 1989.

Both sufficiently stoked, we spent the winter training with backcountry tours of lesser peaks, analyzing the snowpack, and watching the weather in hopes of finding the right opportunity to give the Grand a go.

 Avalanche and weather forecasting in the Teton Range only holds to an altitude of 10,500' but the Grand Teton tops out at 13,770'.  As such, and since the summit is rarely visited in winter, a lot of guesswork goes into predicting conditions up there.  Sometimes it's a sheet of ice.  Sometimes it's nipple deep sugary pow.  Occassionally, huge avalanches pour off the summit snowfields.  Hopefully this article can shed a little light on what's going on up there these days.

I'd been up there mid-winter a few years ago and knew that even with perfect conditions, we were in for quite the adventure.  Guesswork considered, we were expecting variable to shitty conditions but a reasonably safe snowpack.  You never really know until you go, so we went to have a look...

At 2 a.m. on Tueday the 9th we made an attempt but got turned around at 12,000 feet by a rapidly warming snowpack and exhaustion.  After four hours of skinning, we'd spent three hours postholing steep boot to knee deep sugar under suncrust.  We were faced with six technical pitches and two hours of steep and deep sugar before reaching the summit.  No way. We couldn't make it up and back down again before the danger of rockfall and avalanches became unreasonable.  We couldn't make it up, period.

We stashed 25 pounds of climbing gear near 12,000' and vowed to return the next favorable day.  Perfect spring skiing brought us back the the Valley floor where we destroyed a Hawaiian Pizza from Cafe Ponza.

FYI, Ponza is the perfect place to stop en route during midnight forays to the Tetons.  They're open until three a.m., and, unless there's a line of drunks out the door, Bear will get you fed in under five minutes.   Order by phone and you'll be in and out in literal seconds.  You can even pick up a few pre-game or celebratory beers.  Cash only... but I digress.

We spent the 10th watching webcams and weather gauges and though still a little beat from the day before, decided to wake well before the dawn on the 11th.  We left the trailhead at 2 a.m. under a starry, windless sky. It felt colder than expected, which relieved our fears of falling objects but worried us the crust wouldn't soften that day.

Crazy Frazee joined us and his positive vibes made the predawn slog a treat.  It also didn't hurt that we'd already set the bootpack and deposited a bunch of heavy gear 5500' above the valley floor.  With packs only slightly heavier than needed for a typical ski tour we cruised casually back to our previous high point.  A dusting of fresh made the crusty skin track doable. We booted the steeper sections down low to save time and effort. Our two-day-old booter made the slopes from the Meadows to Stettner Couloir much easier.

Starry skies turned bluebird and a low layer of cloud blanketed the valley floor already a vertical mile below us.

As we ascended we bore witness to one of the most impressive Teton sunrises I've had the priviledge to experience.

The otherworldly lighting made an otherwise grueling slog surreal.

Unfortunately, Frazee ate something that gave him the shits and had to turn around at 12,000'.

Dani and I continued onward together.

The technical climbing in the Stettner and Chevy Couloirs offered mostly firm snow.  Only two vertical ice bulges presented real hazards.  The first went easily.  The second was a little tricky but offered bomber protection. We dug out and improved many of the existing rappel anchors during our ascent.  Some of them were in terrible shape.  Some of them still are.

Technical climbing completed, the Ford Couloir and Summit Snowfield offered boot to knee deep sugar under a thin crust with a few inches of fresh on top.  Fortunately we were feeling strong and suffered through the painful last 1000'.  We saw no evidence of slides in the area although we did notice sketchily windloaded pockets on some WSW aspects.

At the summit we found gusty West winds, patchy clouds far below, and nothing but wispy blue above.

Skiing a peak like the Grand reminds me of jumping off bridges into the Mississippi River as a kid.  The longer you stand up top looking down, the more nervous you get.  As such, we switched over quickly and got down to business.

Dani dropped in from the summit and even made some turns on the sketchy rock knob above the SSE Face.

Ski conditions? Summit to Chevy: 2" fresh on occasionally-breakable crust. Chevy to TeePee: five rappels and good windbuff. TeePee to 8000': Powder in perma-shade, dust on crust elsewhere. 8000' to Floor: death cookies and shit crust.

Here are the requisite rapping shots...

The bottom 1500' offered the worst skiing I've done in years.  Rock-solid, knee-jarring garbage.  It had melted slightly that day but by the time we got down it was back in the shade and ridiculously hard.  Combine that with exhaustion and it was, arguably, the most dangerous part of the day.  After that, the two rolling miles back to civilization were a painful stupor.

Too exhausted to stop for the customary celebratory beer at Dornan's in Moose, we drove home in silence.  I've sat on every stool at the bar there, and each faces a huge window offering a panoramic view of the Teton Range.  Front and center is the gorgeous Queen of the range, the Grand Teton.

After making turns from the top, neither of us will ever look at it the same again.

Reflections On A Seemingly Mundane Day

My dog, Maestra, is flying from Nicaragua to Wyoming in nine days. A friend I'll be forever indebted to is bringing her back when he returns.  Thanks, Mr. Gimme.

Maestra would have flown back with me in December but en route to the airport we got hung up by an appointment with the Nicaraguan legal system: a public apology following an attempted rape.  No, I wasn't the defendant.  In fact, I was present to play the role of shit-kicker Gringo in hopes of deterring the would-be-rapist from trying again.  I wore a camo shirt and tried to come off harder than I am.

The public apology arose when the victim chose to be merciful because her attacker, the head of a poor young rural family, was looking at seven to ten. She couldn't bear the thought of those kiddies growing up with their dad in the clink so she worked aggressively to have the charges dropped.  Hats off to ladies for that sort of thing.

As is to be expected in Latin America, sitting in the hot little courtroom became an all day ordeal, and we couldn't make it to the appropriate puppy exportation office before it's ridiculous 3:30 pm closing time.  As such, Maestra couldn't fly.

Ironically, thoughout the all day courtroom ordeal, the would-be-rapist never actually apologized.  Stacks of paper were wasted, the dozen people involved slipped one day closer to death, and blah blah blah but dickface never actually had to look his victim in the eye and utter: LO SIENTO.

C'est la vie encima de la systema.  Which is why I spend as much of my life outside of it as possible.  Right?

 I've decided to stay in Jackson for at least a summer of monkeying around in the mountains with my dog.  We got to climb a few little peaks in Mexico and Nicaragua, and I know she'll dig the Tetons.  First order of business is stoking her out on skiing.

I think she'll be one hell of a ski buddy, even though she isn't allowed in the National Parks.  Hopefully we can nab Gannett Peak together before this ridiculously early spring devours the rest of the snowpack.  It's already almost bare on the valley floor.

Last time I set my sights on Gannett Peak, I ventured out alone into the Wind River Range and had a damn good time.  With my dog, a bit more planning, and a leisurely mentality it'll be ridiculously fun.

See what I mean?  Throw some skis, fishing tackle, a smiling dog, and maybe a ladyfriend into the mix and it'd be sensory overload... the kind of experience you don't really return from so much as continue onward despues.

What else is there but trying to tap into that?
No, you're not better off pumping out some kids.
We've got plenty of humans already.
Learn to truly enjoy being one before thrusting another one into existence.

Looking at the above picture from four years back, I'm reminded my current philosophy on employment is a long time in the making.  What philosophy?  Well, we as a species and as a planet would be better off if 9 of 10 current jobs didn't exist, 9 of 10 products were never produced, 9 of 10 bullshit proclamations were never made, and 9 of 10 people worldwide didn't have to bust their asses to stay alive.

It certainly doesn't help that the richest 1% of folks control 40+% of global wealth.  Really, all those seemingly-godlike bastards (and most of the rest of us) are mere cells in corporate organs within the uncontrollable Goliath of worldwide consumeristic capitalism.

Feel free to wake up at any time.

I'm not too hung up on that though.  Those sorts of stats are skewed. That thinking is skewed.  Because it's all based on a fucked up definition of wealth.  Take it from me, one of the richest guys in one of the "wealthiest" towns in the world.  You know what I mean: Quality of Life.

I've rubbed elbows with the rich, powerful, and famous.  French Pop Stars.  Professional Athletes.  Wealthy Cougars.  Über-Trustafarians.  Dickface Cheney.  Self-Made Billionaires.  Old Money Mavens.  And a whole slew of folks struggling to one up their neighbors in a seemingly productive but actually mindless and destructive game.

My conclusion: Mo' money, Mo' problems.  I don't even want to be a part of it.  The whole legacy literally sickens me.  Any time I find myself miserable, I realize it's because I'm focusing on getting rich when my purpose is obviously to get wise.

If I keep spouting like this, I can kiss any inheritance goodbye.  My loving parents would write me out with my own best interests in mind.  They'd never write me off out of spite.  I think they realize I'm trying to live out the more modernly pertinent aspects of a progressive upbringing rooted in Small Town Minnesota Catholic Schools.

That said, all the crusty fucks who drop more coin on a shitty day than the typical ski bum needs to execute a perfect month... well... they could use a wizening up.  Tranquilize em' and plop em' in a mountainous high desert nowhere with just enough food and a canteen of psychedelic Kool-Aid.  Hopefully after getting up close and personal with Mother Nature they'd come bouncing back like so...

And before we knew it, the modern equivalent to this would go down..

Let's get back on track...

Life really needn't be hard, especially with all the technology we've developed throughout the industrial and information revolutions.  Instead of focusing on creating more jobs, we should focus on eliminating the need for jobs. Put the computer and robot to work.  Why not sleep in, have some sex, play with your dog, go out for brunch with a crew of friends at the neighborhood robo-cafeteria, and settle into a leisurely afternoon of doing whatever the fuck you want?  I can't think of a good reason not to!

Or you can wake to an alarm and spend the bulk of your short life dealing with and fretting about the unnecessary hassle called WORK.  Personally, I'd rather be dead...

Maybe this philosophy itself is a bullshit proclamation, but I know if we want to make it into the 22nd century smiling, humanity needs to replace WORK/SPEND/WASTE with a new set of hobbies.

All that said, and well aware that in order to be worth a damn you must...

...now is the best time of year to find a decent job in Jackson Hole.

Noone's living off of Rainbow Stew yet.  Plus, I'll soon have a dog to take care of.  Good thing Maestra's a three year old DOG and not a three year old HUMAN.

I've got all the right connections, plenty of experience, and can bullshit my way into and (inevitably) out of just about any gig.  I mean, seriously, check out my resumé summarizing high school through the present:

*Photographer, Winona Agency
*Camp Counselor, Camp Olson YMCA
*Resident Assistant, St. John's University
*Life Guard, St. John's University
*Activities Director, Camp Olson YMCA
*Nurse's Assistant, St. John's Abbey Retirement Center
*Disabled Adult Life Coach, Community Entry Services
*Cocktail Waiter and Host, Sweetwater Restaurant
*Cross Country Ski Coach, Jackson Hole Ski Club
*Mountain Bike Guide, Teton Mountain Bike Tours
*Troubled Youth Supervisor, C-V Ranch (not your typical ranch)
*Banquet Captain, Wort Hotel
*Waiter, Cadillac Grill
*Overnight Security, Teton Pines Gated Community
*Bartender, Wort Hotel/Silver Dollar Bar and Grill
*Lumberjack, Good Wood
*Night Auditor, Jackson Hole Resort Lodging
*Kiteboard Instructor, Big Winds Kite School
*Director of Fun, El Cardon Tequila Bar and Grill/Bahia De Los Suenos Development
*Gringo Loco, La Paz, Mexico
*Rey REY's Personal Assistant, Chacahua, Mexico
*Boat Bum/Pleasure Captain/Surf Guide/Kiteboard Instructor, Throughout Central America
*Surf Guide, Dale Dagger Surf Tours
*Freelance Writer, Good Luck
*Local Representative, www.skiingthebackcountry.com
*Doorman/Substitute Bartender, Wort Hotel/Silver Dollar Bar and Grill

That, my friends, is a twelve year string of predominantly short and inconsequential employment opportunities harnessed and subsequently cast off... evidence of a life on the run either to or from an ever changing something.

I've got no bills and can camp out for the summer if Chateau Le Shed falls through, so I'm not exceptionally concerned about getting a gig.  Maestra hates being inside and our dear friend Jesus was homeless, right?  FYI, a damn solid dude despite delusions of grandeur and all that's been done in his name since.  But I digress... and have no desire to rock the WWJD too hard.

A few new opportunities post in the JH News and Guide every day.  I've got my resume in order, have filled out a few apps, and had my first interview... this morning, in fact.  

On the outskirts of town they converted a character-laden dive bar into a lobby, threw a few hundred prefab cabins onto a sea of asphalt, and started charging $400 a night for a "rustic" experience.  I interviewed to be a bellman there.

I can conjure many closer approximations to HELL but would rather not.  Portering bags, running errands, kissing asses, feigning acceptance, and smiling miserably is close enough.  That said, the dog and I are gonna need some money, so I'm hoping to get the job... depending on tips, $80 to $300 a shift.

I know I can do a good job at it.

After leaving my interview I headed to the Wort to pick up my paycheck.  $145.93, the spoils of two shifts manning the door.  I immediately biked to my bank to cash that shit.

I used to be a customer of the locally-owned Jackson State Bank but they sold out to Wells Fargo about a year ago.  I discovered this the hard way, when my debit and credit cards stopped working in Nicaragua.  This forced me to live without them for the next eight months... an educational experience... a blessing in disguise.

When Wells Fargo took over they threw a few wrenches but respected certain minor aspects of the small town character of my bank.  I now need two forms of ID to cash a check, a change, but dogs are still welcome in the bank, and the tellers even feed them biscuits.

It seems every dog in town knows there are treats to be got at Wells Fargo.  Standing in line today, I watched three different dogs stroll through the door, tails wagging, their owners in tow.  One dog was rather polite and sat nicely awaiting a biscuit but the other two rudely put their paws on the counter and demanded service.

As I waited, I found myself worrying that Maestra would learn of these bank biscuits and would develop a similarly rude dependency on them.  The thought didn't last long, however: my turn arose.

I only had my Passport and no requisite second form of ID.  After convincing them of my identity through a lengthy question and answer session, I collected $140 cash and deposited the remaining $5.93 in my checking account.  I grabbed a ??? flavored DUM-DUM pop from the cup on the counter, another quaint remnant from the days of Jackson State Bank.

I spent a bit of it on a half price lunch at the Wort, $1.06 on a sweet pair of sunglasses at the Browse and Buy Thrift Store, and $115 on a half price Petzl Ice Tool at Skinny Thieves.

Down the street at Teton Profiteering the same tool would have cost me $230.  I needed a new one because my old ax is untrustworthy after two years of double duty as a gaff hook.  Many a fish met their maker at the end of my old ax and it's not only corroded but cursed.

Nevertheless, despite the screaming deal and the blah blah blah, I can't help but feel like a DUMDUM for a variety of strange reasons I could hardly convey above.

The feeling will pass as soon as I put the tool to use.  I've got a date with the Grand again tomorrow.



Snowkite Wyoming and Idaho... lots of videos.

Wayne Phillips kiting high above Togwotee Pass.  Photo courtesy Will Taggart.

The kite community in Jackson Hole grows every year and they're putting out some impressive videos documenting the progression of the sport and the perfect terrain throughout Wydaho.

Locals like Will Taggart, Wayne Philips, Andrew McGarry, and Chaz Symons have been pushing themselves (and the boundaries of the sport in North America) for the last several years.

Pascal Joubert is a French pioneer in the world of snowkiting and speedflying.  We're lucky to have him in Jackson Hole this winter.  These first few videos are of his adventures this winter.  I'm pretty sure he's in his 40s... and killing it.

Pascal Snowkiting up and Speedriding down at Craters of the Moon.  That's a 3500 foot peak he's on.  It looks like a good place to learn to Speedride... not too steep and a consistent pitch.  No trees either.
Wayne, Will, and Pascal at Craters of the Moon.  Photo courtesy Will Taggart.

This next video is from Sublette Peak above Togwotee Pass..  I was kiting below Pascal when he flew next to the cliff.  I'd never seen anything like that and was pretty sure he was going to die.

Good kite terrain on Sublette Peak.  Photo courtesy Will Taggart.

Interesting angles and exceptionally good snow at Sublette Peak.
PoW PoW @ Sublette Peak from Pascal Joubert on Vimeo.

Snowkite Heaven.  Photo Courtesy Will Taggart.

Wayne, Will and the rest of the JH Kite Mafia flying over Bondurant last winter.

Wayne kiting Ririe on a -30F morning when I frostbit my face badly.  It was blowing 30mph so the wind chill was ridiculous.

More from Wayne.

Paul Podell's well-made local kite movie.

Once Upon a time in the wind - HD from Paul Podell on Vimeo.

Check out the funky Patagonian Trees and Terrain in this video... they're not Wyomingites, but we're all dying to kite Patagonia. Been there, done that, but it looks like these guys had a better trip.

snowkite Patagonie from Civel Johann on Vimeo.

Skiing GTNP has been so fun lately that I've been neglecting to kite. There's been perfect, untouched snow consistently despite the skinny winter.  Powder days?  Every day.

Now that we're entering the spring melt/freeze cycle, the powder days will be fewer and farther between but the wind will keep blowing.  Kiting corn snow is about as good as it gets. These movies, all made by local kiters, are getting me stoked up to go exploring with my kite this spring.

For more info, check out Snowkite-Wyoming.

Definitely more fun than skinning.  Photo courtesy Will Taggart.